Happy Halloween! The GeekNation Pull List returns this week with possible alternate futures from both DC and Marvel, as well as the return of a fabled pulp hero from Archie Comics’ Red Circle! Read on for our reviews for this week’s picks at the comic shop!
From DC: Damian: Son of Batman #1 by Andy Kubert (Script/Art) and Brad Anderson (Colors)
This week didn’t bring a whole lot of diverse choices from DC Comics, because this is one of those weird months in the year that has five weeks in it. You see, since DC started publishing it’s “New 52” titles in September 2011, they settled on a bit more of a rigid shipping schedule. A reliable, mainline monthly title would reliably be out during the same week each month, which is based upon a four week monthly schedule. For those months in the year that have five weeks, this generally brings issues that are either Annuals, or some that are less connected to the DC Universe as a whole. This series, one focusing on the character of Damian Wayne and his possible future as Batman’s successor, has been in the works at least as far back as 2007, when writer/artist Andy Kubert stepped away from pencilling duties on the main Batman title.
You might remember earlier this year that Damian, the young, badass ninja killer boy who’d been serving as Robin since 2009, was killed at the close of Grant Morrison’s run on Batman Incorporated. Morrison created Damian with Andy Kubert in 2006’s Batman #655, and with the close of his six-and-a-half year Batman story, Morrison took Damian with him. The mini-series started here is not exactly canon, it’s just a look at the possible events that led up to Damian’s assumption of the role of Batman, which we saw in a couple of flash-forward issues during Morrison’s run with the character.
I had fun reading this book, but several elements of the writing felt off. The most prominent thing that bugged me was Damian’s voice and the manner in which he spoke, because he sounded far more cavalier and employed a lot more vernacular than previous writers like Morrison and Peter Tomasi have established for him. Even Batman’s voice seemed not to strike quite the right chord. The manner in which Damian (who is a bit older than we’re used to seeing him) is led to the idea of becoming Batman also seems far too convenient for my tastes.
One thing that was great, though – even if I didn’t care a lot for Kubert’s writing in this issue – is his art. I love the work of Andy Kubert, and the environments and action he renders in this issue are pretty great. All in all, it’ll be interesting to see where issue #2 goes, but it needs to get better if it’s to hold everyone’s attention for all three remaining issues. 7/10
Honorable Mentions at DC This Week: Sandman: Overture #1, Nightwing Annual #1
From Marvel: X-Men: Battle of the Atom #2 by Brian Michael Bendis, Jason Aaron, Brian Wood (Script) and Esad Ribic, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Chris Bachalo, and Stuart Immonen (Art)
Battle of the Atom kicked off really well. It didn’t feel too dense, the stakes felt new, and the cast of characters was extensive but easy to follow.
How fast things can change.
The truth is that if you’re going to have a single comic book with names like Bendis, Aaron, Wood, and Ribic, there are always going to be things that are worth liking. The major disappointment for me in reading the conclusion to the massive X-crossover, though, is that it was absolutely filled with conveniences, plot holes, and “shocking” things that even I’ve seen before, and I’m not even that big of an X-Men reader. Spoiler alert, but there are a few character deaths in this issue, and if you’ve read any X-Men comics within the last 10-12 years, you’ve likely already seen some of these characters die and return. It feels sloppy and unoriginal, which is a death sentence for any superhero comic, but particularly so for the X-Men. In a series where so much has been done, where so many characters need a bit of a focus, and where the fans are hyper-aware of the continuity surrounding even the most obscure background mutants, devolving to predictability and a story that, in the end, seems so devoid of creative passion does a disservice to the fans and the characters.
Another sign of the sloppiness of this or any comic book also lies in how many artists it takes to complete it. Having more than two artists on a book can be a jarring experience for a reader, where the established aesthetics go out the window into something that feels a lot more chaotic with a bunch of different cooks in the kitchen.
The state of affairs for the characters at the end of this issue may lead to some interesting stories down the line, but that does little to salvage the end of this story. Yes, some moments were enjoyable here, but given the strong start this crossover was given, I expected more from the finale for Battle of the Atom. 6/10
Honorable Mentions at Marvel This Week: Avengers #22, Trial of the Punisher #2
From Archie/Red Circle: The Fox #1 by Dean Haspiel (Plot/Art) and Mark Waid (Script)
I have to admit that I know absolutely nothing about The Fox‘s pulp roots. The things that made me pick this issue up were Mark Waid’s name on it, and the fact that Archie is getting back in the business of the costumed adventurer by reviving Red Circle Comics. In a way, my complete ignorance of the Fox seriously increased my enjoyment of the issue, largely because of one, predominant factor: I didn’t expect it to be so damn fun.
The basic story of the Fox, whose real name is Paul Patton, is that he’s a simple newspaper journalist who has an idyllic view of an honest life. He just wants to go to work, pay his bills, come home to his wife, have a nice roof over his head, etc. He thought of the identity of the Fox in an effort to, as the comic puts it, “have some stories come to him.” The problem is that they don’t ever seem to stop, which makes the title for this opening arc all the more appropriate: “Freak Magnet.” Dean Haspiel, an Eisner nominated comic book artist and Emmy winner for design work on the HBO series Bored to Death, has created the plot and the artwork for the book. Renowned comic book creator Mark Waid (Superman: Birthright, Daredevil) provided the actual script, and the result is a whimsical, yet partially disturbing superhero-lite romp through the streets of “Impact City.”
Haspiel’s artwork is very clean, and exceedingly fun to watch. Every page seems to pop with vibrancy and action, giving a classic sense of fun to the story being told. Waid’s dialogue is cheeky and quick-witted, keeping every page interesting all the way up until the very end. I’m glad I took a chance on the Fox, because I think I’m in love. I think you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more fun comic book adventure than the one found here, so I heartily encourage anyone picking up comics this week to give it a try. 9/10
Honorable Mentions from Independents This Week: Saga #15, Danger Girl: The Chase #2
That does it for this week on the Pull List! Be sure to come back in seven days when we take a look at the fresh ink dropping in comic shops! Have a fun, safe Halloween, and we’ll see you next week!
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